(Last updated Jun 5, 2018)

Telecare Transforms Life for Those with Hearing Loss

Consider this scenario: A man in his late 50s is diagnosed with moderate hearing loss and receives hearing aids for the first time. He is delighted to hear sounds he hasn’t heard in years. Within the first couple of days, though, he has difficulty hearing his wife’s voice when they go to a restaurant. Also, when driving his car, the ambient noise of the road is too loud and distracting.

He makes an appointment to meet with his hearing care professional (HCP) to discuss these issues, but the earliest he can come in is several days. Rather than deal with the frustration, he removes the hearing aids altogether.

Unfortunately, this story happens far too often, where a new hearing aid wearer rejects and returns the hearing aids. A recent study found the main reasons for non-usage of hearing aids include a perceived lack of benefit or too much background noise or feedback.

Now imagine if patients could receive immediate support as soon as something went wrong, talk to their HCP at their own convenience, and have their hearing aids adjusted remotely to improve their performance and reduce background noise and feedback. Would the return rate still be so high?

Real-time help for real-time challenges

In today’s fast-paced, on-demand world, people have high expectations of their healthcare providers, with telecare enabling providers to treat patients remotely. Hearing aid wearers are no exception. Smartphone technology expands the benefits of telecare to hearing aid wearers, allowing remote access and even fine-tuning of hearing aid settings via a convenient app. This enables the HCP to stay connected to their patients, increasing satisfaction, saving time, and reducing return rates. Telecare eliminates the need for patients to have to meet with their HCP in person every time they need their hearing aids adjusted so they can have their hearing aid issues resolved in real time.

Does a patient move south for the winter? Or are they homebound due to injury or illness? Even poor weather conditions can prevent the patient from traveling to the office. However, these are all non-issues with telecare.

More importantly, with such technology, the HCP no longer has a blind spot between the hearing aid fitting and the follow-up appointment. Rather than waiting weeks to report their feedback, users complete in-app listening exercises (like sitting in a restaurant or listening to music) and rate their satisfaction in real time. With daily satisfaction and hearing experience ratings, the HCP understands how patients are doing with their new technology before they set foot back in the office. This in turn can decrease appointment times: a convenience for both the HCP and the patient.

With frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips and videos also within the app, the patient can even solve their own problems proactively. Such on-demand support is especially beneficial during the initial trial period for new hearing aid use, with researching showing that better support and more training in the use of their hearing aids can reduce rejection.

The benefits of telecare

Whether the patient is a first-time wearer or an experienced user trying new technology, the first few weeks with new hearing aids are critical to long-term success. The use of telecare has fundamentally changed how people with hearing loss connect with their HCP and adapt to their new hearing aids.

Telecare is extremely helpful for patients who live in remote areas or otherwise may not have easy access to an HCP. Individuals with mobility issues, or those who lack reliable transportation, benefit from telecare as well, as it removes the obstacles that previously prevented timely care.

Additionally, hearing aid telecare apps typically include guided assistance and frequently asked questions to empower patients to learn about their new devices on their own. And with remote control functionality within the app, they can adjust volume and settings on their smartphones themselves, further reducing the need for in-person appointments.

A modern, connected approach to hearing care

An effective hearing care strategy requires the support of a dedicated HCP – particularly during the trial period of new hearing aid use. Before, patients were typically left on their own between their initial and follow-up visits, but now with the emergence of hearing telecare solutions, the disconnect between HCP and patient has become a thing of the past. Enabling patients to connect with their HCP and find helpful resources directly from their smartphone leads to reduced returns and more satisfied patients.

Lisa Klop Lisa Klop Lisa Klop, AU.D. is an Educational Specialist for Signia hearing aids. She is responsible for training customers and sales staff on the brand’s current technology and products. She conducts training sessions in customers’ offices, remotely, via webinars, and at regional and national events. Areas of particular expertise include hearing assistive technology and the fitting of kids and teens. Prior to joining Signia (then Siemens Hearing Instruments) in 2012, she operated a private dispensing practice for six years. Other clinical experience includes hospital, ENT, and non-profit clinics. Lisa obtained her doctorate degree in Audiology from Central Michigan University in 2005.

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